WESTFIELD A local bank has taken the initiative to not only open a new branch location but to experiment with a new banking model that keeps the bank open seven days a week.
The Westfield Bank had the grand opening of its new model branch at 560 East Main Street, on June 25, which is pioneering the seven-days-a-week schedule as well as extended hours. The branch is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.
"We decided to be very innovative and be open seven days a week," Alice Babcock, vice president of marketing and branch administration for Westfield Bank said. "At grocery stores there's banking open seven days a week but people don't feel comfortable doing their banking at the end of a checkout line."
This banking model, while new for Westfield Bank, is something that has been applied to other banks out west, according to Babcock.
One such bank, First Mariner Bank in Baltimore took the initiative 10 years ago to expand their hours into Sunday, according to an article posted on the Baltimore Business Joural website: www.bizjournals.com.
Such trends in banking aided Babcock in her research, as she went on to state that she did a tremendous amount of research in order to produce this new banking model in an effort to accommodate customers.
"If you look at a typical family today, they're busy with kids' softball and soccer games on Saturdays, so Sundays are really the only days [for banking] after they are at work all week," Babcock said.
According to Stephanie Morales, operations manager for the East Main Street branch of Westfield Bank, the extended hours have been very successful thus far, as they have had customers waiting for them to open the past two Sundays.
"We've been very busy on Sundays and I think that it's just going to get busier," Morales said. "This is like the new age of banking and we're really enjoying it."
Not only can customers do their baking at this location on the weekends but customers are also scheduling the closings of their loans at this branch because others are closed during the weekend or late evening hours, according to Denise Begley, business development manager at the East Main Street branch of Westfield Bank.
"Customers are definitely receptive to the new scheduling," Begley said. "The extended hours have been quite successful and we're still getting customers after 5 p.m. This week is going to let people know that we're here, and open, and available to the public."
The seven-day model has come from concept to fruition, according to Babcock, in the wake of online banking when there was talk of branches "going away." The branches needed to have a different model in order to be more productive as the customer's needs were changing.
"I think that more customers were drawn to Internet [banking] because they couldn't walk into the bank on Sunday, and now people will have the opportunity to walk into the bank," Morales said. "I do a lot of online banking myself, but not everything can be solved with online banking."
In order to ensure that each customer can be helped at any time, this branch has also taken the initiative to provide customers with "relationship bankers:" an upgraded staff that has been cross-trained in order to handle any customer transaction, according to Babcock.
Currently there are 11 branches of Westfield Banks in the greater Springfield area, Babcock stated. But if this scheduling model is successful on East Main Street, the model will be applied to the branch to be opened in Feeding Hills, as well as all of the branches.
"The bar has really been raised for our branch," Morales said. "Being a part of a change is great."
For more information on the East Main Street branch call 562-1055.